Let’s be clear. With rare exceptions, there is almost no business that does not need a significant level of technical support. So articles about why you need technical support are a waste of time. The mere fact that you have a website on the internet and use computers in your business is all you need to know as to the why?
But what about the how? That is a different matter.
There are, in essence, four major methods of IT support available to solve computer-related problems.
The first one is self-help
We are all familiar with this type of help. There is a list of commonly experienced computer errors and a list of standard solutions to resolve the problem.
From the global view of an organization, self-help is incredibly valuable because it avoids using an IT staff’s resources to continually answer simple problems such as how do I add a different font to my documents.
Want to know how effective self-help can be in terms of IT? Consider this, it costs most organizations about $12 per phone call to answer IT questions, and around $5 per incidence if they use chat.
On the other hand, it costs just 10 cents per customer to answer IT questions by self-help.
First line of contact
Commonly called level one IT support, either by email, chat or phone call, these IT technicians can typically handle around 70 to 80 percent of all technical phone calls.
They may not be superior experts able to resolve intense and complicated IT problems, but they get the job done quickly and expeditiously.
Studies show that in most organizations, the vast majority of first-line contacts are handled by email.
As people become more sophisticated about using computers, tech support managers say that the calls they do get regarding IT are more complex than ever before.
The second tiers of IT support, being IT specialists that require in-depth knowledge of the product lines are increasingly popular.
Almost all these contacts are by phone only, and typically will involve a 15-minute or more conversation, typically a teaching moment as well as arriving at a solution.
Often this second-tier tech support will involve using various software allowing the technician to remotely tap into the caller’s computer system so that the caller can fully see how the solution is achieved, not just letting the IT guy or gal resolve the problem so that they need to call again in a week or so.
Sometimes a problem is beyond even the skills of a second-tier expert. When a problem gets this far along, often a designated super-agent is called in to resolve these issues, which may even involve calling in the R and D department for advice.
7 Tips for better technical support
With this understanding of how tech support ideally works, there are indeed ways to improve technical support.
#1. Think carefully before outsourcing.
Many companies feel they can save significant levels of money by outsourcing their technical support.
If done right, and you get the right IT partner, this is true. Getting it wrong, however, can be a big headache.
However, particularly if you sell software, it is very important to ask yourself will the outsourced IT support provide the level of technical support and guarantee the same level of expertise and professionalism on every call to them.
If not, then your business is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on sales support, only to have it disappear with poor or inconsistent tech support.
#2. Make tech support a fuction of your sales force
First of all, your sales force has spent a great deal of time and effort securing a new customer. Once that has taken place, they rely on tech support to provide the necessary support necessary to make the product work with maximum efficiency.
However, ordinary IT support is not enough. IT should be part of your sales force. Whenever the tech support agent determines that an advanced product might be of more use to the company, they should suggest is a subtle way how an upsell might make their company work more efficiently.
This is another reason to question outsourcing. IT support that is outsourced rarely has any incentive to upsell.
#3. Implement the four levels of tech support
It’s not uncommon in smaller companies to have the sales force or even the CEO field all technical support questions.
This actually adds a layer of frustration to a company as they are not talking to the person who actually can answer their questions pronto. It also adds a certain level of stress to the sales force who are not spending the time in the most valuable way.
#4. Monitor and pay attention to complaints outside your own control
If a company or individual has problems with their technical support, often the first thing they do is complain on social media.
If you are not monitoring social media, you may be like a company with a blindfold on, ignoring important issues that have escaped your attention.
By all means, find out what problems customers really have, not just what they tell you.
#5. Make it easy to contact tech support
For some reason or another, many companies seem to imply their customers will never have an IT problem as they bury the contact phone number on their website.
Come into the real world. Be proud of your tech support and make sure you display the contact number on your homepage.
#6. Listen and learn from your customers
Your tech support should provide management feedback as to what customers say. For every one customer that complains about an issue, there are 10 more who have the problem but do not complain.
#7. Have the write tools in place
Finally, have the right tools in place, which means in short, have a ticketing system that keeps track of every problem encountered.
Your goal is to have 100 of all tickets resolved in a minimum amount of time.